Peace – Prayer – Joy – Love

The Good News in the Beatitudes

    1. Speaking of Identity – There’s been a lot of talk about Identity lately

      1. How do you describe what it means to be an American?
        1. Declaration of Independence
        2. Constitution
        3. Core Values
        4. Expressions of those values & ideals
          • Pledges & Duties
          • Songs & Poems
          • Flags & other patriotic displays
      2. Sermon on the Mount (Christian Constitution?)
        1. Core to our Christian identity
        2. Central to Jesus’ teachings – Red Letters
      3. Beatitudes (a little bit Christian Bill of Rights, a little bit Preamble)
        1. Bill of Blessings? … Identity & Belonging
        2. Connects w/ideas from Mary & Zechariah, Amos & Isaiah, etc.
    2. Military Police 
      1. Membership Involves Representation
        1. The Individual Represents Whole
        2. Carrying the Heritage on your Shoulders
        3. Expectations codified in the U.C.M.J.
      1. Enforcing the U.S. Army identity
        1. Proper wear of the uniform
        2. Proper behavior & conduct
      2. Conduct Unbecoming a Soldier – individual shame shames the group
    3. Congregational Church
      1. Our Heritage – I’ve been enjoying studying our heritage & identity
        1. Historic National
          1. Pilgrims & Puritans
            • Nonconforming Dissenters (of the Church of England)
            • Passionate & faithful colonists banded together
            • Maybe sometimes over-zealous & given to witch hunts
          2. New England Colonies & “Yankeedom” (Colin Woodard)
            • Values education, intellectual achievement,
              communal empowerment, and citizen participation
              in government as a shield against tyranny.
            • Higher degree of comfort w/government regulation
              & having a bit of a “Utopian streak.”
            • Stark contrast to the “Deep South” aristocracy
          3. First Ordained Female Pastor in U.S.A.
          4. Inclusive & Affirming & Patient in the Pilgrimage for all
        2. Historic Local
          1. Greenville connection … a distinct & historic community
          2. Names we know & Memories we hold
          3. Pastoral portraits & case of memorabilia in the narthex
        3. Our Covenant
          1. Who we are & What we do
          2. Mission & Vision Statement
        4. Our Annual Meeting
            1. Coming together as a body
            2. Recalibrating & recommitting
    4. Being a Jesus Follower; a Christian (“little Christ”)
      1. The Source of Christian Identity – Jesus (get to know him)
        1. Not our own design
        2. An identity higher & more worthy than ourselves
        3. An identity more humble than we would choose
        4. An identity that transcends our petty walls of division
      2. Kingdom Identity/Citizenship is described as the Human Condition
        1. Poor in Spirit
        2. Mourning
        3. Meek
        4. Hunger & Thirst (for Righteousness)
        5. Merciful (implies need for mercy)
        6. Pure in Heart
        7. Peacemakers (implies existence of conflict)
        8. Persecuted
        9. Reviled & Spoken of in Evil Falsehoods
    5. Dramatic Contrast! – Empire Identity v. Kingdom Identity (Brian Zahnd)
      1. The spirit of the age blesses the cocky and self-confident
        But Jesus blesses the poor in spirit.
      2. The spirit of the age blesses those who are shallow and thus happy all the time
        But Jesus blesses those who have the capacity to mourn deeply.
      3. The spirit of the age blesses the power-hungry who want to run the world
        But Jesus blesses the meek who are willing to trust God.
      4. The spirit of the age blesses the privilege-protectors
        But Jesus blesses the justice-seekers.
      5. The spirit of the age blesses those who think justice is retribution and revenge
        Jesus blesses the merciful instead.
      6. The spirit of the age blesses the clever ones who come up with the best schemes
        Jesus blesses the pure-hearted who have no schemes.
      7. The spirit of the age blesses those who are great at waging war
        Jesus blesses those who have the patience to work for peace.
      8. The spirit of the age blesses those who fight for might
        Jesus blesses those who suffer for what is right.
    6. The Good News in the Beatitudes
      1. The spirit of the age (Empire) measures the dignity if your identity:
        1. Financial wealth – Blessed are the rich in spirit
        2. External pleasantries – Blessed are the happy
        3. Physical might – Blessed are the strong & bold
        4. Material success – Blessed are the prosperous
        5. Charismatic appeal – Blessed are the self-confident
        6. Independent spirit – Blessed are the self-sufficient
        7. Patriotic pride – Blessed are the warriors
      2. The Holy Spirit (Kingdom) measures the dignity of your identity:
        1. God’s love & undeserved favor for you – Grace
        2. The internal posture of your heart/soul – Gratitude
        3. The response springing forth from that posture – Faithfulness
      3. The Good News in that reality is that your reward can be:
        1. The Kingdom of Heaven
        2. Comfort
        3. Inheriting the Earth
        4. Being filled
        5. Receiving mercy
        6. Seeing God
        7. Being called children of God
    7. Take Comfort in Who You Are – No matter where/what you are
      1. Feeling guilty, ashamed, or poor in spirit? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found as a citizen/heir in the Kingdom of Heaven.
      2. Feeling grief or mourning? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found in the comforting embrace of a loving God.
      3. Feeling bullied or meek? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found in the sovereignty of an all-powerful Father.
      4. Feeling deep lament for the evil of this world? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found in the fullness of God’s infinite goodness.
      5. Feeling heartbreak for our vulnerable bro/sis? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found in God’s own heart of love.
      6. Feeling a longing to heal divisions & prejudices? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found as a true child of the Lord of all humanity.
      7. Feeling the isolation of rejection? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found within the loving community of God’s Kingdom.
      8. Feeling hated? attacked? mocked? & slandered? That’s not your identity.
        Your identity is found in a God who sees all & who rewards generously.

      Our nation has a constitution with a preamble and a bill of rights
      that describes our identity as a people banded together in this Empire of ours,
      but our faith gives us a higher identity granted by divine grace & sovereignty;
      an identity described in the Beatitude words of our Lord & Savior, Christ Jesus …
      an identity that transcends every Empire, every era, and every trial we may endure

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